- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Last week I posed this question: What one philosophical tendency, trend, tenet or practice would you like to see the Colts change, and why?
As opposed to some previous questions you've encountered here, I wasn't looking to reach any sort of consensus, just to stir some debate. Based on your responses, I think we got that.
So here's the best of what you had to say with some of my thoughts interspersed. I think this was the best feedback I've ever gotten from Colts devotees, so thanks for all the quality responses.
J.D. in Greece: Talking about the Colts' Magic Wand. The thing I love about the Colts is they treat their team like a business and they make good business decisions. I like that they don't invest in free agency and that they spend their money wisely. I look at teams like the Redskins who have such a large salary cap they can just throw money around and never accomplish anything and am glad that the Colts are smarter than that. The one thing I wish they'd change would be a bit more transparency with fans and media. I know a lot of players like Marvin Harrison have always been closed for more personal reasons, and I do read the Colts.com interviews with Dungy and Polian every week, but it's easy for fans to get frustrated when we don't really understand the mindset of the organization and sometimes I think the people in the organization refrain from sharing their ideas simply because they don't think the fans will understand. This can be agonizing at times like last year when the Colts lose in the playoffs in the first round and lose to the same team they've lost to several times in the past several years and the only thing we here is "We need to keep doing what we do." For once, I'd like to hear "We screwed up and we'll need to change something." No one likes to admit when they're wrong, but it really hurts the fans (or at least me) when we only get one SuperBowl in 10 years despite "doing everything right." Humility is one thing, and I respect that the Colts have a larger amount of it than other teams, but denial is another and sometimes being overly humble just looks like extreme denial.
Paul Kuharsky: Very nicely said. The only solace, I suspect, is that you know what answers are coming. It's probably not going to change, but perhaps Jim Caldwell will be compelled to say a bit more? Yeah, I doubt it too -- it's Polian who controls the message.
IndianaDave53: I'd like to see some explosiveness on our team, in both the offense and the special teams. Too often it seems like the Colts thrive on these brilliantly planned, methodical drives, but every once in a while I'd like to see a deep threat linger with a speedster wideout (Wayne is many things but he is not a true home run threat. The two long TD passes I can remember with him were fluky, the one this year in the SD where Peyton caught the defense napping, and the same thing in SB 41). We have a dominant and great offense, but the problem is it takes a bit to get going. We don't have an RB who can break the long run, just a few who can get us the 4 yards most of the time. Nor do we have the wideout who can get 30 yards deep before the pocket collapses on Peyton. We don't need the deep pass as much as we need fewer LB's and DB's clogging the windows of the passing lanes.
We don't need much, as the 12-4 record can attest, but I think we need one more speed player to the offense, if only to make the lineup less predictable and more versatile a few plays a game, at least. And if it's really a magic wand, make him a steady kick returner, something the colts haven't had since... before Peyton, maybe?
Paul Kuharsky: Explosive plays weren't great last season. The Colts had only five runs of 20 or more yards, tied with Arizona for fewest in the NFL. But the Cardinals offset that with their big play passing -- 27 plays of 30 or more yards, while the Colts had only 15.
Still, I think Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark qualify as explosive players at their respective positions and I expect Marvin Harrison's replacement who arrives in the draft to be one too.
As for the return game, they seemed to really want to use Courtney Roby on kickoffs last season, but then injuries made it so they couldn't afford to dedicate a roster spot exclusively to a kick returns. It would be great if they could find a guy to handle both kicks and punts and decide to value it in a way where it was indispensible. Finding the guy is the thing.
res0piab: I'd like to see the Colts draft a DT in the first round, and try something different with the offense for once, like a 2 WR, 2 RB, 2 TE set instead of the 3 WR set they use constantly. Defenses know what the Colts are going to do. When they execute perfectly, they can do it anyway, but they need to come up with something different to use as well. It was painfully obvious that the singleback set did not work for the running game last year, so try a power running formation. If you gain 5 yards on 1st down instead of 2, that gives you a lot more flexibility.
Kyle in Santa Barbara: Re: Colts Tenets The Colts need more creativity in play calling. The basic tenet of football is that a defense can't effectively stop an offense from getting 3.34 yards on a run play without blatently risking giving up 6 points. The Colts have become so used to converting 3rd and 15s with their elite passing attack that they don't properly keep defenses off balance. Bill Polian has publicly stated that the statistics he builds his team around are turnover differential and pass yards per attempt, and this is extremely effective until you come accross a critical 3rd and 3 in the playoffs and the opposing defense guesses pass. The Colts never run the ball 10 straight times and they never pass 10 straight times; if they were willing to do that they might keep defenses from trying to guess.
Paul Kuharsky: The run game was definitely broken and needs fixing. But I'm fine if on offense they feel good enough to say, 'This is what we do, try to stop it.'
blue_flip_flops: I would like Bill Polian to change his strategy when it comes down to drafting players in rounds 1 and 2 of the draft THIS YEAR. Instead of drafting the best available player overall, how about drafting the best availabe player only on defensive. The Colts will have a top 10 ranked offense going into next season with Manning being healthy, so adding key 1st and 2nd round defensive players in the draft would be very welcoming.
chianga: I'd love to see increased stability in the LB corps. Over the years, we've seen great linebackers like Mike Peterson, Cato June, David Thornton, and now Freddy Keiaho (who may or may not be "great," but certainly capable) leave Indy and sign lucrative deals elsewhere. If we could re-sign a few of our LB mainstays (like we did with Brackett), I feel like we'd be stouter agains
t the run and the short/mid-range passing game.
Jason in Philadelphia: Why is everyone so quick to complain about the Colts' defense while praising the offense. By no means is Indy's defense stifling, but it does exactly what it is designed to do: bend, don't break. Indy has ranked very well in defensive pts/game the past two years(7th in 2008, 1st in 2007), a huge jump from 23rd in the superbowl season. I agree a big run stuffing DT would be nice, but we don't need somebody like Albert or the Williams', just somebody a little bigger.
Michael in Shreveport, LA: If I were going to change one thing about the Colts, it would be to add more size in the defensive line. The speed and quickness can compensate for the size on DE, LB, CB, and Safety, but having people eat up the clock by pounding the ball up the middle and not being able to stop it effectively leaves Manning and the offense off the field and keeps the plays away from their playmakers on Defense (unless they bring Sanders into the box).
Gerb463: To be fair, BP has tried to address the d-line size issue yet has run into some bad luck..Simon, Sweet Pea Burns was just a bust, Pitcock suddenly retiring, Ed Johnson being dumb again. I'd like some more size but the linebackers thing is an issue that bothers me as well. Peterson, Washington, Thorton, June...all have been pro bowlers who the Colts let walk away (Yes, I realize June is a 10 as a pass defender and a 0 on run support but he did start for the team that won it all). I just think there has to be a better solution than letting guys walk...
Paul Kuharsky: It will be interesting to see if Caldwell and Larry Coyer get good play from linebackers and if they will want to or can shift Polian's mindset on this at all.
In conversations I've had with Polian about beefing up at DT, he's emphasized it can't just be size, it's got to be a good player with size. One or two of those have to be high on his checklist.
Trendoid: I like the speed on the corners of the defensive line but some size in the middle would be nice. I wouldn't go for a 100 million dollar free agent though in order to get that.
Matt in Boulder: Paul this is more comment/observation than question about the Colts philosophy. but I equate the Colts to a college team. Its filled with seniors and freshman and no middle class. Those are the ones you need for good depth. And with the Colts you either become a senior or let go when its time to become a junior. I wouldnt mind seeing colts let the high price guys go and bring in 2 or 3 others for same price. Thanks.
Matt: On changing a Colts' tenet: Why? Is seven straight seasons in the playoffs bad? Six straight 12-win seasons? Compared to fans of other NFL franchises, I'm freakin' spoiled! And you're asking ME what I would change? Get rid of the mascot.
Paul Kuharsky: You are spoiled. But I do think you and your fellow Colts followers can fairly ask if out of all of that, you shouldn't have more than one Super Bowl appearance.
Matt in Boston: I am very satisfied with the Colts performance over the last decade or so, so it is hard to find something that you think you could change to truly improve the team. I would like for the Colts to teach the Pacers how to build a franchise.
Nate in Indy: It's hard to say what one tenet of the Colts I would change - they've been who they've been for so long under Dungy that it's hard to imagine them as being anything else. But if I had to change one thing, it would be to adopt a more west-coast style offense. The O-line can't forever rely on Peyton's ability to deftly move around the pocket to avoid sacks. More three-step drops and quick passes might see Anthony Gonzalez become one of the best possession receivers in the game. If they set their minds to it, I think they could revolutionize that system with the pieces they have now, save one more sure-handed receiver picked up in the draft.
Kyle in Athens,GA: I would like to see the Colts not rest their starters the last week(s) of the season just because their playoff seed is set. They did it every year under Tony Dungy except for one, they year they had to play every game to get the 3 seed; they won the Super Bowl that year. The year they started 13-0, they rested guys for 2-3 weeks and threw off the timing and rhythm of the offense. Same thing happened this year. I want to see Meeks play them every week this year.
Paul Kuharsky: That's a very good one Kyle, and will always be up for debate when they have a cushion. Perhaps the Titans are now good enough that the division is going to come down to the last few games and early clinching won't be an issue? Maybe that would actually help. Even last year as a wild card their last game didn't mean anything.
Kris in Terre Haute, IN: I would honestly like to see them look for more balance in their defensive line up. An all speed defense breaks down when the personnel isn't just perfect. With a more balanced approach like adding bigger pocket-crushing DTs or a run-stuffing MLB, the defense will be more versitile when injuries occur. Look at what happens to the defensive production when Mathis or Freeney go down. Look at the games where Bobbo was missing from the secondary. With a little more balance the Colts could adapt to injury more easily. At least that is my view on the subject. What do you think?
Paul Kuharsky: Well they actually did fine last year when Bob Sanders was out, but I get your broader point. I think we've got a consensus here that some size in the middle could really help the defense, and my sense is they is they will be bigger at defensive tackle next year.